Program enables some immigrants to earn livings, attend college
By BILLY HUNTSMAN
Las Cruces Bulletin
At a Sept. 29 immigration forum, topics relating to legal immigration into the United States were discussed.
Anna Hey, an immigration attorney for Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, which put on the immigration forum with the help of City Councilperson Olga Pedroza, gave a presentation on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which was passed in 2012 by President Obama as an executive order.
DACA allows for immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to remain in the United States, to obtain work permits and exempts them from deportation.
“As of June 30, 2016, 1.25 million people have benefited from this program,” Hey said. “That’s 1.25 million people who would not have been able to get a job, continue school, who often times would not have had any choices but bad choices to make in order to live in the United States.”
DACA does not confer citizenship, Hey said, only work authorization for two years. After the permit expires, people can reapply.
“With that work authorization, they’re able to get a Social Security card, legally work in the United States, allowing them to obtain health insurance, accept scholarships, file taxes and contribute to Social Security, attend college, open a bank account, get a driver’s license and travel in the United States, past checkpoints,” Hey said.
The contributions workauthorized immigrants can make to society are immeasurable, she said.
“People complain often that immigrants are a draw on our economy, when in fact immigrants every day put into the system and don’t take back because our laws prohibit them from getting any kind of benefits or assistance,” Hey said.
Additional requirements for DACA eligibility are:
• An immigrant must have graduated from high school or currently be in high school/taking GED classes/taking Englishas- a-second-language courses;
• Be 30 years old or younger as of June 15, 2012;
• Pass extensive criminal- history check with no felonies, serious misdemeanors or more than two non-serious misdemeanors; and
• Pay application fee of $465.
Out of DACA, in 2014, came the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA).
The program was controversial and led to several states, such as Texas, filing lawsuits against the federal government, which then put an indefinite end to DAPA in February 2015 while the lawsuits proceeded. The program remains inactive today.
The requirements for DAPA were similar to DACA’s. An individual must:
• Have lived in the United States without interruption since January 1, 2010;
• Have been physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 (the date the program was announced);
• Be physically present in the United States when applying to the program;
• Have lacked lawful immigration status on Nov.
• Have had, as of Nov. 20, 2014, a child who is a U.S.
citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
• Not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors, and not “otherwise pose a threat to national security or be an enforcement priority for removal.”